Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Romance

While the entire story of Sapphire and Gold isn't centered around Christmas, there are several scenes that take place during the Christmas season in Colonial Williamsburg. Here's an excerpt of one:

Alexandra stood at the staircase landing’s large multi-paned window, bathed in the golden glow of the setting sun. She waited and worried. Waited for Derek’s schooner to appear at the plantation’s wharf. Worried about his reaction to her confession.

She placed her hand on her abdomen and wondered if she would look different to him. Within weeks her condition would be apparent to all. Would he turn away from her in disgust? She wouldn’t be able to bear it.


She leaned over the balustrade looped with spruce garlands. “Yes, Mother?”

Laurel stood at the foot of the stairs. “Our guests are arriving.”

“I’ll join you in the ballroom in a few minutes.” With a heavy sigh, she cast one more longing glance out the window then gathered the folds of her burgundy velvet skirt and descended the stairs in slow, unhurried steps. Her brow knitted in concern. Derek had said he would be there. Something terrible must have happened.

“Why, wherever could your husband be, sister dear?”

Alexandra turned to see Jillian emerge from the shadows of the hall. The jubilant expression in the younger woman’s dark gaze put her on guard.

“Do you suppose he has tired of you already?” Jillian shook her head and clucked her tongue. “I can see why. You look a bit dreadful. I fear that color doesn’t suit you. Did you do your own hair? Your secret’s safe with me. I shan’t tell anyone.”

Alexandra resisted the urge to smooth her hair. The slight movement would only serve to reward her sister’s desire for revenge. Instead, she stood confident. Derek had often remarked he liked her hair unbound and he had chosen her dress himself. “I won’t fight with you. Nothing you can say will spoil this day for me.” With quiet dignity, she walked past the younger woman.

“I do believe the purpose of this ball is to celebrate your marriage. Won’t that be a trifle difficult without your roving husband?”

Alexandra’s footsteps faltered for but a moment at the venom in her sister’s voice. Then she squared her shoulders and continued on her way, struggling to shut out the echo of Jillian’s mocking laughter.

“Derek has not left me,” she whispered. “He will come back. He must.” She lifted her chin a notch and entered the ballroom.

Festive splendor greeted her. Christmas finery decked the large room and brought a hint of a smile to her troubled heart. The fragrance of pine and bayberry mingled in the air. Garlands of box and bay added touches of gaiety. Sprigs of holly had been tucked behind the mirrors. In one corner, fiddlers played a romantic ballad that tugged at her already fragile emotions.

She forced back the sudden onslaught of weepiness and moved forward to greet her guests. Many of the prominent planters of the area accompanied their wives in wishing Alexandra well with her marriage and asking after Derek. After each congratulatory offer, the scorching heat of Jillian’s triumphant gaze bored through her back.

Where are you, Derek? Behind her she heard the doors open. The curtains fluttered, then a hush fell over the room.

She turned. There stood Derek.

Dizzying joy swept through her Her husband caught her up against his lean, muscled form. “I claim the right of kissing the fair maiden standing beneath the kissing ball.” He lowered his mouth to hers and stole her breath.

Alexandra entwined her arms around his neck and reveled in the sweet sensations. “I thought you’d never arrive.”

He pressed a final kiss to the tip of her nose. “I always keep my promises. Don’t you know that by now?”

A lump in her throat thickened her speech. “I’m sorry I ever doubted you.” A frown gathered on her forehead and she gave his chest a sharp poke. “Where have you been?”

His eyes alight with a merry twinkle, Derek turned and signaled to a house servant. Within seconds, Polly Taylor and the children swarmed around her, talking and hugging all at once.

The children had come. Tears spilled down her cheeks as she pulled them close, touching each and every one of them to assure herself they were really there. She looked up. Derek stood outside the circle of children, his grin wide. “Is this the pressing matter you had to attend to?”

He nodded. “You are pleased with your Christmas gift?”

“Pleased? I’m more than pleased. It was more than I dared to dream for.” No wonder she loved him so.



One of my favorite Christmas movies is While You Were Sleeping. (Love the leaning scene.) One of my favorite Christmas books is A Season for Miracles by Marilyn Pappano, which is the first book in her awesome Bethlehem series. Do you have a favorite Christmas story or movie?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Writing toward Home

I'm reading Writing toward Home: Tales and Lessons to Find Your Way by Georgia Heard and wanted to share this quote from Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille (in the chapter Keeping the Channel Open):

"And because there is only one of you in all time, this experience is unique and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it."

This is only part of the entire quote, but it really caught my attention and made me think. Like the author of the book, I will post this quote inside my writing notebook and a couple other places where I will see it often.

I'm only part way through this book. It's not a big book, but I'm savoring each chapter. According to the back cover, "It includes exercises--road maps to get you going--to help overcome the obstacles that may be in your way: writer's block, fear of rejection, silencing the critics, lack of time."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Will You Help Make Christmas 2009 Special?

Let’s make Christmas 2009 special for the children at Wesley Medical Center!

Lexi’s L.A.M.B. is doing a fundraiser to raise money to buy each child at Wesley Medical Center a Bernard the Polar Bear from Avon. Each bear costs $20 and our goal is to raise enough money to purchase 30 bears. Any additional funds will provide toys and other items for the children to use throughout the year.

Lexi’s L.A.M.B. Foundation is a non-profit ministry set up in the memory of my granddaughter, Alexis Christine Sparks. Our Vision is to provide God’s little angels with love, comfort, and support. The mission of Lexi’s L.A.M.B. is to follow God’s will in providing financial, emotional, and material support for children with special needs through a partnership with parents, family and medical staff.

For more information about Lexi’s L.A.M.B. Foundation please visit our website at http://www.lexislamb.org/ or email me at penrader@juno.com.

Merry Christmas and God Bless!